farmers mkt op-ed

Jeff Ishee jeff at
Mon Jun 12 14:52:18 EDT 2000

If you have an interest in farmers' markets, you'll have an interest in
the following op-ed.
Best regards,

Jeff Ishee
Resources for farmers' markets and market farmers
info at
P.O. Box 52
Middlebrook, VA 24459
Op-ed / 06-09-00

Daily News Leader - Staunton, VA
Opinion Editor Dennis Neal

Food inspection necessary for all concerned

	The furor about the possibility that undercover inspectors are snooping
around the Staunton-Augusta Farmers' Market shouldn't be a furor at
all,  provided next year's General Assembly keeps the guidelines under
which they operate at a sensible level.
Some level of inspection and certification has to be expected, if only
for the safety and health of consumers and we feel that the vendors
understand that. Farmers' markets have proliferated across the state in
the past few years as the popularity of natural foods has soared.
Consumers also appreciate the lower prices that farmers'  markets
sometimes offer.
It is perhaps the "naturalness" of that food that makes random
inspection and certification of vendors so necessary. No one wants a
return to the "bad old days" when shopping for food was an adventure of
the wrong sort.
However, there is, of course, a limit to what the markets can bear, pun
intended; there is benign regulation, and there is arm-twisting. The
proposed legislation that has those who ply their trade in the farmers'
markets upset is House Bill 957. Tabled by the General Assembly after
this year's session, the bill will come up for discussion in 2001.
Vendors fear that if enacted, state agents might be allowed to enter
homes and inspect property without a warrant. There is also concern
about language in the proposed bill that would allow regulators to
impose civil penalties as much as $1000 for violating food health codes.
And therein lies the rub; House Bill 957 is proposed legislation.
Nothing has been decided as yet therefore vendors fears may be
unfounded. It is, however, appropriate to voice concern, for while some
regulation is necessary, none of us want to see the unique aspects of
our farmers markets disappear as a result of over-regulation or for
prices to be driven up as a result of excessive costs to the vendors.
The small farmers must remain vigilant against any lobbying by big
agriculture or the grocery chains to force harsh or punitive measures on
the farmers' markets. We may only hope that big agriculture and the
grocery chains are not so greedy as to believe that small -niche
operations such as the farmers' markets pose a serious threat to their

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